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Student Organization Recognized as Role Model Chapter

The university's Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science honored.

Written by Lindsay Bradshaw

SACNAS is a society dedicated to helping underrepresented minorities advance their academic and professional careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. (Click to Enlarge)

SACNAS is a society dedicated to helping underrepresented minorities advance their academic and professional careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. (Click to Enlarge)

Texas Tech University’s Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) received the 2011-2012 Role Model Chapter award for outstanding professional development during a recent National SACNAS Conference.

SACNAS is a society dedicated to helping underrepresented minorities advance their academic and professional careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Ximena Bernal and Jaclyn Cañas-Carrell, co-advisers of SACNAS, said minorities often encounter particular challenges that reduce their chances to advance academically. Thus, it is imperative to provide opportunities that encourage them to obtain degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“With the changing demographics of the United States and the need to remain competitive in STEM, there is a need to grow the number of scientists, mathematicians and engineers from underrepresented groups,” said Cañas-Carrell, associate professor of environmental toxicology. “Organizations like SACNAS are needed to support those underrepresented minorities in STEM, encourage them to obtain graduate degrees and support those with the degrees to move into leadership positions.”

The award was given for the chapter’s Science in 3D events, which bring science out of the textbooks and into reality.

“Science in 3D events are meetings in which professors talk about their research but also about their academic pathway to where they currently are,” said Bernal, assistant professor of biological sciences. “The 3D meetings offer a unique opportunity for students to hear about research presented at their level, while also learning about what it means to be a scientist in those fields.”

In addition to Science in 3D, chapter meetings also encourage professional development by allowing members to receive information on various topics such as graduate school, financial planning, presentation skills and research internship opportunities.

The next goal of the chapter is to have a strong turnout at the next SACNAS National conference in San Antonio next October. 

“This conference is a unique opportunity for students to network with faculty, scientists and researchers in their disciplines,” Bernal said. “The chapter has a strong and vibrant group of students, but only a few get to go each year. With the national conference being in our home state next year, we want many students to enjoy the inspiring environment. We also want to represent and promote Texas Tech’s mission to support a diverse campus.”

Andrew Armstrong, president of SACNAS, said the organization puts a lot of effort into its promotional efforts.

“Each year we try to target incoming freshmen who are current or potential STEM majors in order to inform them of all the opportunities Texas Tech has for them as a student,” Armstrong said. “We also mentor those who are interested in approaching faculty for undergraduate research positions.”

Armstrong said the organization has a promotional table at all SACNAS events possible at the beginning of the school year and the Center for Undergraduate Research’s Undergraduate Research Conference each spring.

The chapter will continue hosting Science in 3D and providing professional development at its chapter meetings.

This is the second year in a row the chapter has been recognized. In 2011, it received the
Role Model Chapter award for outstanding sustainability.

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